White Cat (Curse Workers #1)
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Genre: Urban-Fantasy, Young Adult
The first in a trilogy, this gritty, fast-paced fantasy is rife with the unexpected. Cassel comes from a shady, magical family of con artists and grifters. He doesn’t fit in at home or at school, so he’s used to feeling like an outsider. He’s also used to feeling guilty—he killed his best friend, Lila, years ago.
But when Cassel begins to have strange dreams about a white cat, and people around him are losing their memories, he starts to wonder what really happened to Lila. In his search for answers, he discovers a wicked plot for power that seems certain to succeed. But Cassel has other ideas—and a plan to con the conmen.
Having read some of Holly Black's faerie books, I was incredibly surprised by her growth in writing that showed in White Cat. Before I had always seen Black as an excellent character writer, but a bit too heavy in her writing for my personal tastes. White Cat blows that thought out of the water. The prose in this book is light and flows smooth. The pacing is fast, but not overpowering.
As always, Black's characters are fascinating.
Cassel is very much his own person and a joy to read. His
way of looking at the world is different than most, yet it didn't feel forced.
At the same time he was so layered and complicated that I feel like there's
more to him we will learn about in the next books.
Then there is the world building in this novel, which I absolutely adore. This world-building where magic is just a normal part of the history of Earth and all its nations is a type of world building that I have become very fond of. Both Patricia C. Wrede's Frontier Magic series and Karen Kincy's Other series have a similar way of going around it. In this way being paranormal doesn't make you special different and oh my god it can't exist type of way. In fact it gets rid of the now annoying step of making one's character accept impossible things. It also allows for the author to imagine how society would react to having such powers among them and how that may have evolved, in this case due to being illegal, giving rise to Crime Syndication of Curse Workers.
There's also a mystery and danger feel to this book due to the feeling of "why" "whodunit" an the fact that Cassel belongs to a family deeply integrated into the mob.
The fact that
was secretly a transformation worker without realizing was spectacular and at
the same time horrifying. I couldn't believe that his older brothers would have
used him the way they had and taking his memories so he wouldn't know. It was
people like Barron who gave reason for heebeejeebie assault to be very illegal.
It sickened me, what he did.
Finding Lila alive as a cat was also pretty exciting, I also cannot wait to see her as a character in the next book because she seems like such a firecracker, so out there, so strong and so unique for YA heroines.
Though I am just as upset about Cassel's mother's "present" because it will hinder us learning about her character more and Cassel may never know what Lila's actual feelings were.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to see paranormal in a completely unique light, to anyone who loves unique and spunky characters. And finally I recommend this to anyone who wants to see a unique approach to a mobster story.